Give it a Few Weeks

The month of August is heavy with the weight of change.   Children start new grades. Lazy summer days fade away as we busy ourselves with new routines.  And the days begin to shorten.

The days seem shorter than usual in my home.  Science says I’m losing around 2 minutes a day in sunlight, but it feels like hours.   I began college classes the last week of August and all my children started new schools.   I was surprised by the emotional toll.  I felt physically and mentally tired.  On top of that, I felt emotionally exhausted.   Excitement, concern, fear, contentment.   I’d feel all these emotions in a 5-minute span.  And it left me feeling spent.

In recent years I’ve become a big fan of mantras.  A mantra is a short, grounding phrase.  For a while, my mantra when plans fell apart was “no one died.”   It helped give me perspective that a change in plans wasn’t a catastrophe.  It was simply a change in plans.  Recently, my mantra (and a few of my kids who felt overwhelmed) has been,  “Everything will be different in two weeks. ”  I’m not sure why I chose the word different and not better.  Maybe because it seemed like the most honest thing to say.  After all, I can’t promise better.  But I can guarantee different.  And I’m not sure how I came up with the time frame of two weeks.  I guess I felt that I could endure anything for two weeks.    Nevertheless, it became my mantra every time I began to feel overwhelmed with paperwork or carpool lines or stress.

“Everything will be different in two weeks.”

And you know what?  It’s been nine days and it is different now.  We’ve found a rhythm. Many of the unknowns have been answered.    The sinking, drowning feeling that comes with a new change has been replaced with a calm ebb and flow to the days.

Certain times, and certain seasons intrinsically hold more change.  A mantra has been a handy tool for me during these times.  Everything will be different and likely better.  Just give it a few weeks.

America Keeps Families Together

It’s impossible to ignore the sad reality.  When adults are accused of illegal behavior,  the government policy is to separate children from their family until the situation is resolved.  This heartbreaking practice is happening in our country right now.

But it’s not just happening by the border.  It’s not just happening to immigrants.  This happening right now in YOUR community. Confused?

Children are torn from their family and placed with strangers or in group homes all over our nation..  They need people who believe kids should be with their family.  They need a nurturing, caring home while they wait.  They need adults who recognize the emotional distress they are experiencing.  These are kids in foster care who desperately need a safe place to land during the one of the hardest times of their life.

Don’t get me wrong.  We should be outraged by what’s happening in the south.  As I think about what’s happening and try to separate fact from fiction, it makes me sick to my stomach.  It’s wrong on so many levels.  We should speak out when children are mistreated.  We shouldn’t forget to treat one another with dignity and respect.  We should collaborate with a government that struggles so desperately to provide basic needs and safety.

But it’s important to remember that OUR government can only operate if citizens participate.  Participation requires more than a post on social media.  Without citizen participation, there is no moral compass.

It’s misguided to assume complaining about the problem creates solutions.  It may feel good to get something off your chest, but it does nothing to solve the crisis.

Thoughtful action solves problems.  Love, much like faith, requires action.  Write letters.  Raise funds. Seek solutions to systemic problems.   You may not be able to help the refugee children.  But you can do something.

If it breaks your heart to see the government  rip families apart,  I dare you to be a foster parent.

As television and internet rage about pain and suffering  along the border,  be one of those who are quietly caring for heartbroken children who are suffering.   You have the power to help reunify families.  Get involved in foster care.

“Foster care is the planned, time-limited placement of a minor with a licensed foster family, when the needed care cannot be provided in the child’s own family or by appropriate relatives.”

Foster parents do the hard work of caring for kids in crisis. Their experience is not all that different than what we see happening with immigrant kids on the border.  It’s not for everyone, but it might be right for you.

Why make the sacrifice?  Why go through all the red tape and heartbreak?  Because this is who we are as a nation.   America keeps families together!  By the border and in our backyard.  Click here to take action.

sun over the cyclone fence
Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

 

 

 

play makers

“I’m a play  maker,” he replied with a grin when I asked him what position he played. Around his neck was a medal. He showed it off to anyone who would listen. His enthusiasm was contagious. I couldn’t tell if it was the sport or the excitement of winning, but there was passion in his eyes as he talked about the other teams.

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Sure, he was a play maker. His football team had won their last game and he had the joy of playing multiple positions. But the foster dad and mom who took the time to sign him up, buy the equipment and deal with post-practice stench, they were play makers too.

Giving kids in crisis something positive to look forward to and a sense of belonging, now that’s a game changer.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take any athletic prowess to be this kind of play maker. No pads, mouth guards or cleats necessary. No speed drills or weight lifting.

A foster parent is a teacher, mentor, parent and advocate. They are game changers and play makers. Why not become a play maker today? No wind sprints, I promise.

Unless, you’re Tony Dungy. Then you do both.

Nurture the Garden

It wasn’t a planned trip. But as we left Lizardman Fest, I saw a sign for Pearl Fryar Topiary Gardens and couldn’t resist driving down the lane and exploring.

The ornamental bushes and trees greeted us on our left. A kind gentleman noticed the quizzical expression on my face. He gently directed me. He pointed out where to park and encouraged me to walk around and enjoy. I found a spot and meandered through the carefully tended bushes and trees. It was mesmerizing. Was I daydreaming or dream walking? It was hard to say.

“I wasn’t important for me to create a garden. I wanted to create a feeling. That when you walked through, you felt differently than you did when you started, ” Pearl Fryar said.

Needless to say the artist achieved his objective. I felt happy, peaceful and delighted. We snapped pictures, stretched our legs and piled in the van for the drive home.

Back at the house I did and little research and fell in love with Pearl Fryar. That nice man who helped me? It was Mr. Fryar! He wasn’t a master gardener or a professional horticulturist. He was an engineer and a self-taught topiary artist. He transformed his yard into a declaration of peace, love and goodwill. He was faced with discrimination in his community. His response? Create something of beauty and joy. To top it off, many of the stunning plants on display were rescued from compost piles.

Mr. Fryar had the ability to look at plants others had given up on and see potential. He knew with time and care they too could flourish. He rescued the plants and gave them a future through consistent care day after day, season after season, year after year. There had to have been days when he wondered if all his hard work would pay off. He had no guarantee the effort would give him the desired outcome. But Pearl Fryar dared to dream big dreams.

Thank you, Pearl. You remind me to tend dreams and nurture the garden of the soul. You’re growing more than plants. And I’ve added watching the documentary A Man Named Pearl to my summer bucket list.20180609_123333

Facets of Motherhood

This is guest post from Adrienne Schenck.  She’s a woman of God who finds just the right words to capture all the big feelings.  Her social media post resonated with my heart today.   I  think it will touch yours as well.  Happy Mother’s Day.

Thinking today of the many facets of motherhood… there is a woman in the world right now who is planning to place her baby with us in 7 weeks.
The magnitude of that and how she might be feeling today is not lost on me.

The ones who have lost mothers, or wish desperately to be one, I think of you all and leave a space in my heart for your grief.

To my mama, who is still and will always be one of my favorite people on the planet, thanks for everything, especially teaching me to be strong, confident, and creative, because I’ve got girls to teach the same.

To my husband’s mom, I have no idea how you did it, but thank you. He’s probably the best husband and dad ever, but I may be a little biased.

Happy Mother’s Day to the tired, arms full mamas, to the mamas whose kids have flown the nest, and to the ones for whom Mother’s Day is a sad reminder. Love you all.

Finding Room in the Car

“So how did you end up fostering?” I always smile when someone asks me this question.

It was a Saturday night. Our family was walking to our car in a dark parking lot. We piled into the large sedan. It wasn’t quite blue and it wasn’t quite purple. We fondly dubbed it the blurple car. We recently downsized and routinely squeezed our family of five into the Elantra. Our goal was simple. Pay off debt and save more money. The low gas mileage would help us achieve our goal. Plus, my husband could literally walk to work. It would be a small, but livable sacrifice. We knew we’d upgrade later to a larger vehicle, but for now we were a one vehicle family paying off debt and saving for the future.

But something was nagging at me and surprisingly it wasn’t one of our three kids squished in the backseat. Someone had mentioned foster care earlier that evening. It was a casual conversation, nothing fancy or spectacular. Nevertheless, it caused a spring of desire to well up within me. The idea of becoming a foster parent was foreign and surprising. I kept pushing the notion to the back of my mind, but it kept coming back like a hound dog sniffing it’s way home. I needed to say something.

“Honey, I kind of feel like we are supposed to get involved with foster care,” I mentioned to my husband.

“Me too,” he replied. Then he expressed the same concerns I had. They were the same thoughts that made me reluctant to even mention the idea. “But how would we do that? We just downsized our vehicle. It doesn’t make sense.”

“I agree. I don’t think we should purchase another vehicle. We made a commitment and I think we should keep it.” He nodded in agreement . “I guess if it’s something God wants us to do, he’ll just have to provide.”

The stars were shining high in the sky while we cruised down the interstate. There wasn’t much more to discuss about the topic. Our hearts had plenty of room. But there was no room in our car.

The following morning was Palm Sunday. There was nothing unusual about the day at first. We wrestled clean clothes on the kids and fed them breakfast and scurried to church to serve.

My husband was chatting with a musician and casually mentioned getting another used car.

“I don’t know where you can buy one,” the musician said, “But I have one I’ll give to you.”

My husband was stunned. Later, I was stunned when he told me. Then we both were stunned when we saw the white Jeep parked in our driveway on that sunny Palm Sunday.

“I think we’re supposed to become foster parents,” he said.

“I think you’re right,” I replied.

Let Truth Be Your Compass

Yesterday I had lunch with two amazing foster parents. We talked about the challenges of transition times. It’s just plain hard to be rational and calm when a case plan change catches you off guard. It’s a bizarre emotional journey that you don’t understand until you’ve been through it.

In some ways, it feels a lot like navigating a dense, dark forest. You have a compass to guide you, but there is a deep, unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach. Maybe it’s a longing for light or a well worn path. Either way, it’s a tricky trek.

My grandma used to say, “We’re not out of the woods yet” when a situation seemed to improve but there were still risks ahead. Parenting in all it’s forms is a risky endeavor. Life, for that matter is risky.

Follow the compass. It’s your only hope in the woods of life. Truth is the compass. Our imaginations can be our own worst enemy. Fear and impulsive thinking can easily overwhelm us when we take our eyes off what we know. With truth as the compass, we can steadily make the journey one step at a time.

Try jotting down everything you know to be true. Let the truth guide you.

Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

Healing

I’m on light duty letting my body heal. As difficult as it is for this go-getter girl to slow down, I’m following the doctor’s orders. My mind is a bit fuzzy as the anesthesia is slowly working it’s way out of my body, but I’ve been contemplating healing. We live and get hurt. But too often we ignore the healing process.

1. You can’t hurry healing. Sure there are miracles that inspire us. Instantaneous healings happen, but often healing is a process. Through the process of healing we have a unique chance to grow and come back stronger. Did you know that when a bone breaks, it heals stronger that it was before? But only if you don’t rush the healing process.

2. Healing is unpredictable. You just don’t know exactly how the process will happen. It might be messy and down right awkward. I’ll spare y’all the details. Be thankful.

3. It hurts. I had a moment last night where I began to question whether or not the surgery was worth all the pain. Would it really help me feel better? Healing can hurt, but it’s a sign we are alive and moving towards wholeness.

4. Gratitude goes a long way. As I think about the skilled and compassionate medical professionals, my supportive friends and my amazing family, I’m so thankful. Without them it would be hard to get better. But they’ve made this journey a little sweeter.

I’m trying to lean into this healing process, maybe for the first time ever. I think there are a lot of people like me who would prefer to avoid it all together. But in this broken world, healing is available. We need to be wise and receive it.

Whether physical, emotional, spiritual or social I pray that the healing process would be at work in you too.

Heal and be healed friends.

So thankful for my husband who has been my biggest supporter and encourager.

The Power of a List

Yesterday,  I finished reading Listful Thinking by Paula Rizzo.   It inspired me by the sheer variety of list making possibilities.   I have to admit, I’m an avid list maker.   That’s probably why I got this book.  Who doesn’t like reading books that affirm what they already love? listful thinking

Last night, I sat in my car in the dark church parking lot waiting for my kids to get out of youth group.   Rizzo’s  ideas were floating around in my head so I decided to grab a notebook and make a list- actually two lists:

things that annoy me but are beyond my control  and things that annoy me that I have dominion and power over.

A curious thing happened as I compiled the lists.  First I began to let go of anxiety about things I can’t change- serenity prayer flashback.   I realized my emotional efforts in this area doesn’t change anything, but it does cost me precious energy.

Secondly, I realized I can change many of the things that annoy me that I have dominion and power over.   By shifting my focus, emotions and energy away from what I can’t control, I felt energized to tackle things I can control- like my messy coat closet.   (Which I tackled this morning for anyone who cares.)

This is one point Paula touches on in her book.   A list can be much more than a to-do checklist.   A list can be a brain dump.   A list can bring clarity. A list can help you organize your thinking and make progress.

How might making a list help you work through difficult situations on your parenting journey?  IMG_20180305_104649(1)

 

 

Losing It: A Plot Twist

I didn’t see this coming.   When I visited the doctor to  for my check ups, they found something unusual- 3 large cysts on my ovaries.  So Tuesday, they’re getting removed.

While it’s unfortunate that I have to have surgery, I feel thankful to have some solutions to the symptoms I’ve been encountering.

Did you know ovarian cysts:

  1.  Get your hormones out of whack.   Feeling hot flashes or imbalanced?    This could be the culprit.  My progesterone  is really low.   A result,  it’s hard to lose weight and I feel tired.
  2.  Cause abdominal pain.  I thought I was just feeling gassy, but that dull pressure that comes and goes was my body saying something isn’t right.
  3.  Cause urinary urgency.   I chalked this up to giving birth to three kids, but no.

It struck me how I simply accepted these symptoms as my new status quo.  How much have I needlessly suffered because I didn’t take time to listen to my body and schedule appointments?  Ugh!

I get it.   If you’re adopting or fostering, you likely have your calendar booked with home visits, parent visits, therapist visits, caseworker visits.    It seems impractical to schedule an appointment for something that may or may not need to be addressed when there are so many urgent things that NEED addressed.

We get trapped in thinking we can put off our needs.   But here’s the catch:  A family needs healthy, happy parents to be healthy and happy.   Do what it takes to get there. Maybe you need a day off, a gym membership, a doctor visit, a therapist, better nutrition.    If you have the means, make it happen.

Taking care of yourself is one of the most unselfish things you can do.   The children you take care of are precious gifts from God.  But don’t forget that you are too.

 

 

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